Lessons in Patience from the World’s Slowest Pedestrian

I’m impatient, tense, and in a frenzy as I pull up to the intersection to turn right.

angry driver

The light’s green but because a meandering male pedestrian is wandering unhurriedly across the crosswalk on the street to which I’m trying to turn, I’m stalled.

He’s quite the eyeful; forty and short – maybe five and a half feet tall, with a hobbit-type potbelly.

His brown hair is a bird nest of a toupee with the crown not even pretending to match the temples. He’s adorned in a garish, undersized, well-worn, striped, algae-greenish, polyester sports coat that doesn’t fit him — or the current decade. His trousers are twisted so his fly doesn’t line up with his belt buckle. Neither is aligned with the center of his body, each wrenched askew in a different direction. The waist of his pants is pulled up so high, resulting in the pant-legs being too short, exposing his calves well above his socks. (As a kid, we called those, “high waters” because if there were a flood, you wouldn’t get your pants wet.) Pants, grey; shoes, maroon; socks yellow — he obviously did not have a wife to help him choose his clothes.

Wrapped within his short arms that the sport coat’s sleeves do not cover, pressed to his chest, are too many files in too few folders. While navigating the crosswalk, he’s trying to prevent the papers from sliding out of the packets on to the ground, causing his hands to be constantly in motion, sliding hither and yon across them. Further complicating this maneuver, is his Styrofoam cup full of coffee held at a dangerously perilous angle. With each step, the brown liquid sloshes over the brim of the cup, splashing him and his documents. It’s clearly hot because when it makes contact, he winces.

To top it off, he’s slower than a sloth.

Granted, if I wasn’t so stressed, it might not have bothered me. After all, it was almost like observing the offspring of a gnome and a businessman, and how often does one see that?

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Driving Prosperity

Note: Over the last short while, I’ve received amazing feedback on my previous pieces about the path on which I find myself in rebuilding my faith and prosperity. I’m touched and humbled because, although I always aim to be transparent, these last few have been extremely personal and I was nervous about sharing. Your feedback has been reassuring; moreover I’m amazed by how many people feel the same. This column brings that journey to a stop sign — at least as far as things stand today. Thank you for coming along.

With that as backstory, we have two cars.

the pontiac when it was youngerOne was a 1997 Pontiac Sunfire; a low-end economy car with 122,000 miles. People oft-times are shocked when they hear I possess an 18-year-old auto with so few miles. They are thrown further back on their heels upon learning our second car, which is 19 years old, has merely 75,000 miles. (I joke that it still has its original tires.) What can I say? We walk a lot, and as you might remember, until a car hit me a few years ago, I rode my bike a great deal. In addition, we are loyal, not quick to discard that which is still usable.

Yet, driving to clients in a peeling grunting, clanking, banging automobile which wheezed and creaked more than a dilapidated, broken-down, gasping pipe organ not only gave me great concerns about safety, but — as vain as it may sound — didn’t fit the image I want to portray. Bottom line was I needed (and wanted) a new car. It was time. The problem is that in the last almost-two decades, the technology of cars has improved significantly. Yet, despite that, no one has figured out how to remove car payments. Sigh…

Putting forth my trusty mantra, “I live in a state of constant abundance;” I set forth on what would become a three-month journey to find the “perfect car.”

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Finding Abundance

The year prior to last was frankly put, lousy.

We had some health issues, which, as you know, are not only frightening, but also expensive. To make matters worse, what I thought was a very successful business model suddenly collapsed as if built on rotten toothpicks, leaving me financially scrambling. I’m fortunate; I’ve always put money away for a rainy day, but this was a downpour.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said,

“That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”

So, I guess I am sturdier for the experience. Yet, I retained scars.

One result was that I hunkered down, even as the tides began shifting. I looked for where I could shrink my life instead of how I could once again blossom. Because I attempt to live simply (all things being relative), there wasn’t a great deal to prune. I was faced with decisions akin to, “How can I save three dollars on the power bill? Is it really essential to patch the roof now or can we wait? How long can I hold off before replacing my brakes?”

Don’t misunderstand, we muddle up our existence with all too much unnecessary clutter so, if given the luxury, living within one’s means is admirable and even virtuous. However, unless one is extravagant or wealthy (or both), he or she can only cut so much fat before grinding away through bone.

Eventually, I was fortunate enough to be confronted by someone willing to have with me one of those unpleasant — but many times necessary — “courageous conversations.”

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Leave a Note for a Friend, Family Member, or Co-Worker

Leave a surprise note for someone.

Remember how you felt the last time someone left you a surprise note?

Whether it was your spouse, your parent, or just a friend; there’s something special about finding a friendly note when you least expect it.

No matter how good your mood was before you got the note, it got better afterwards.

A few years ago, I bought some really inexpensive plastic hearts at a dollar store for Valentine’s Day (above). I put candies in them for my wife. However, I still have them and periodically, I will put short, fun notes in them and hide them in various places around the house for her. It might take weeks before she finds them – and I’m sure we’re still missing some that were never retrieved. I don’t tell her. As she stumbles upon them, it brightens her mood and mine (because I’ll hear her surprised laugh or “Aww, that’s so sweet!).

Why not try it yourself and watch what happens to your mood?  (No, it doesn’t have to be a romantic note.)

Examples of what you could do:

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You’re Only One Step From Getting Back on Track

You’re always only one step from getting back on track.

As the expression goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

So, when we slip up, we – with great intention – say, “I can start again tomorrow.” Yet, how often does that pattern repeat, leaving us over and over and over again, “starting tomorrow.”

That’s why it’s important to remember that you’re always only one step away from getting back on track.

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